Loose Motion (Diarrhea) In Children

7 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

loose motion in childrenLoose motion is nature’s method of flushing out of impurities and infection from your body. But loose motion (Diarrhea) in children can be a very difficult time for both children and parents, even though usually in most cases it will get cured in two or three days.

Because, unlike a cough and cold, when your child is affected with loose motion, your child will become weaker and tired due to dehydration. And the bad news is that children tend to get loose motions more often than adults.

In This Article

Symptoms of Loose Motions in Kids

You can suspect your child has loose motion or diarrhea if he possesses the following symptoms:

  • Having more watery and smelly stool excessively and more frequently, is an indication of loose motion or diarrhea
  • The child unintentionally passes the stool before reaching the toilet as s/he loses control over his bowel movement
  • Stomach pain
  • Fever accompanying loose motion
  • Vomiting accompanying the loose Motion
  • Loss of appetite

If not taken seriously, even otherwise, harmless loose motions can turn to be dangerous due to the possible dehydration. Dehydration is the excessive loss of body fluids – water and salt – from the body.

Heavy loss of body fluid can prove to be life-threatening in the case of children. So watch closely for the symptoms of dehydration even if you feel that you are giving your child proper fluid intake.

What are the Symptoms of Dehydration in Children?

These are the symptoms that your child shows if he is undergoing dehydration:

  • Decreased urination or no urination for 12 or more hours is a sign of dehydration
  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth and skin, and feeling extremely thirsty
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling extremely thirsty

What Causes Loose Motion in Children?

There are numerous reasons for your child to catch loose motions. It ranges from changes in food habits to severe intestinal infections.

1. Loose Motion Due to Infections Includes

  • Bacterial Infection: Bacteria such as E-coli, salmonella, etc., cause severe loose motion in children.
  • Viral Infection: Viruses are the most common cause of loose motion found in children. There are lots of viruses such as calicivirus, influenza, rotavirus, etc., that can cause loose motion and vomiting in children.
  • Parasitic Infection: Giardiasis is a parasitic infection found in children caused by a microscopic parasite that lives in the bowel. The greasy stool is the main symptom that separates parasitic infection from viral and bacterial infections.

2. Loose Motion Due to Food Habits Includes

  • Drinking Plenty of Juices: Fruit juices that are laxative in nature can cause loose motion. Fruit juice that contains sorbitol and lots of fructose is also found to cause loose motion in children.
  • Food Allergy: Once your child develops new food allergies like a nut allergy or lactose intolerance, the loose motion is the very first sign.
  • Indigestion of Food: Stomach upset due to not properly cooked food or excessive intake of fat in a child’s diet may cause indigestion. This leads to loose motion.

3. Loose Motion Due to Intake of Medicines

If your baby is under antibiotic medication, there is a chance of them having loose motion. This is because antibiotic medicines kill the good bacteria in the intestine along with the bacteria that caused ill health. This results in loose motion.

4. Loose Motion Due to Mouthing Objects

Once your child starts to roam around their own, they tend to lick or bite each and everything that attracts their attention. Different infectious microorganisms that dwell on these things increase the chances of infection that may lead to loose motion.

5. Loose Motion Due to Transition in Seasons

It is found that in small children, the transition in the season (such as summer to rain or rainy to winter) triggers loose motion.

How Can Loose Motions in Children Be Treated?

Following are some of the ways loose motion in children is treated:

1. Drink Plenty of Water

child drinking water

  • Unlike what you believe, thirst is not an early sign of dehydration. Your child feels thirsty implies he is already dehydrated, so make them drink water before s/he feels thirsty to eliminate the possible dehydration.
  • If your child refuses to drink water, encourage them to take small sips at a time and repeat it more often. Keeping your child well hydrated is important.
  • Never give your child undiluted fruit juices instead you can give pediatric electrolyte solutions, which are now available in different flavors provided your child is more than a year old. This will help to replace the lost electrolytes due to loose motion.
  • Tender coconut water is said to be a natural electrolyte. Make your child drink tender coconut water.

2. Eat Solid or Semisolid Food

  • You should give your child solid food like rice, steamed Kerala banana, steamed rice pancakes, etc.
  • You should also try to feed your child soups, rice water, mashed potatoes, grains, and cereals which are a good source of starch and easily digestible, and helps to gain strength faster.
  • Semifluid porridge of arrowroot powder is also good to give your child regain strength. Just remember to avoid lots of masalas and sauces while preparing food. Also, avoid food items that loosen the stool, like beans, from your child’s menu.

3. Give Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria. Taking probiotics helps to replace infectious bacteria with healthy bacteria. Yogurt is an easily available source of probiotics. Give your child 60-180ml of yogurt twice a day.

4. Make Your Child Drink Milk

child drinking milk

Clear fluids can’t meet the calorie needs of your child’s body. So encourage them to drink milk. If you still breastfeed your baby, then continue with it as it is a well-balanced food to consume during diarrhea.

[Read: 10 Tips to Make Milk Tastier for Children]

Note*: Never give cow’s milk or buffalo milk to your baby during this time.

Is Loose Motion Contagious?

Whether the loose motion (diarrhea) in children is contagious depends upon the reasons behind the loose motion. If it is merely an outcome of some food intake, it is not contagious. On the other hand, if the loose motion is due to infections caused by microorganisms, it is highly contagious.

Loose motion can be spread through direct contact with things or surfaces that are contaminated with infectious germs. Therefore, toys, furniture, toilet seats, etc., are good agents of infectious germs. Touching these things and then putting the hand into the mouth will result in the spreading of germs among the children.

If you cook without properly cleaning your hands after taking care of your child, it will result in spreading this infection to other members of the family.

What Precautions Can I Take to Protect My Child From Loose Motion?

You can’t always prevent diarrhea 100% as it is highly contagious. But the following precautionary methods can help to reduce your child’s risk of getting this infection once there is an outbreak of this infection.

  • Wash your child’s hand frequently with water and medicated soap.
  • This is mandatory if there is an outbreak of diarrhea in your neighborhood.
  • Never give your child food that is sold by street vendors.
  • Disinfect the surfaces that your child may come in contact with.
  • Wash your hands properly before preparing foods.
  • Wash and peel vegetables and fruits thoroughly before cooking.
  • Always use boiled or filtered water for drinking and cooking.
[Read: Teaching Children the Importance of Washing Hands]

When Should I Seek Medical Attention When My Child Has Diarrhea?

unwell child

Following are some instances that necessitate medical attention if the child contracts diarrhea:

  • If your child starts to vomit frequently more and more water and salts are getting lost from the body affecting the electrolyte mechanism.
  • If your child has a high fever.
  • When your child happens to be younger than six months old.
  • If the child has not urinated for the past 6 hours and your baby is less than six months old.
  • In the case of an older child, if the child has not urinated for the past 12 hours.
  • If you find the presence of blood or pus in motion.
  • When your child is too weak.

In usual cases, with enough fluid intake and proper rest, loose motion (diarrhea) in children slowly subsides in two or three days. If your child doesn’t show any sign of improvement after a day and also if the symptoms mentioned below show up, then we advise you to seek medical attention.


1. How do I Restore Electrolytes in my Baby Suffering From Diarrhea?

Ensure your baby is well hydrated when they are suffering from diarrhea. Give them fresh fruits. Fruits like bananas, oranges and kiwis.

2. Can my Baby Drink Milk When Suffering From Diarrhea?

No, it is not advisable. Doctors advise stopping dairy products until the diarrhea is under control. Dairy can worsen the situation.

3. Can I Give Raw Vegetables to my Baby Suffering From Diarrhea?

It is best to avoid. Raw vegetables might carry some bacteria in them. When a baby is already suffering, it’s best to give them well cooked food.

4. Should I Admit my Child to the Hospital if They are Suffering From Diarrhea?

Only if the diarrhea is bad. Otherwise you can keep hydrating your child and give some simple medicines given by your doctor. If you suspect your baby is getting very weak, do go to a hospital.

Read Also: Gallstones In Children – Everything You Need To Know

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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